OLYMPIA — A measure that would change the state’s Growth Management Act (GMA) to allow limited development along the Chelatchie Prairie Railroad in Clark County and short-line rail in Okanogan County was signed into law last week by Gov. Jay Inslee.
Senate Bill 5517, which passed the Senate 37-10, is a companion measure to House Bill 1504, prime-sponsored by Rep. Liz Pike (R-Camas). Pike’s bill, which would have allowed limited development of freight-rail-dependent facilities along Clark County’s Chelatchie Prairie Railroad and adjacent to all short-line railroads in Eastern Washington, passed the Legislature in April.
However, it was vetoed by Inslee, who expressed that it would have opened too much agricultural land for industrial development.
“I have worked on the issue for the past two years, because several companies had sought land along the Chelatchie Prairie Railroad for development that could have brought as many as 7,300 jobs to rural Clark County. Prior to passage of this bill, the GMA prevented that development,” said Pike.
“This issue, however, was too important to our local communities. I wasn’t about to abandon it after the governor’s veto. Instead, I worked with the governor’s office to determine what we could do to bring jobs to Clark County and provide a measure he would accept. Today’s bill signing is the culmination of all of this work,” noted Pike.
Under the Senate measure, Clark and Okanogan counties and the cities within those counties may adopt development regulations to assure that agricultural lands, forest lands and mineral lands next to short-line railroads may be developed for freight-dependent uses. Pike says the amended Senate measure preserves the original intent of her bill, which would have allowed development of lands adjacent to short-line rail in Clark County for jobs.
“This is a victory for Clark County residents who want to work in the community where they live. I’ve been told by those interested in development along the Chelatchie Prairie Railroad to be prepared for a lot of ribbon-cutting ceremonies in the future. I look forward to seeing new manufacturing job opportunities in our local area as a result of this bill,” added Pike.
Information provided by Washington State House Republican Communications, www.houserepublicans.wa.gov.